The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issues surrounding the development at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) of a national digital knowledge centre and indigenous portal for bringing culture back home and beyond.
How do we find and gather relevant material from the rapidly increasing digital sources found along the landscapes of the web, other libraries, CD‐ROMs etc? And with what we have gathered to add to the AIATSIS Digital Library, how can we plan to preserve and create culturally sensitive and appropriate descriptions of our collections, for future access in our keeping place, a keeping place for all? Apart from digitising our own collections, the AIATSIS Library has borrowed and digitised material from other libraries such as annual reports of the state government Protectors of Aborigines. A far greater challenge is in gathering relevant materials from digital libraries, from Google Books, Internet Archive and the Gutenberg Project as well as a rapidly increasing number of individual libraries.
Preserving our collections alone does not tell all the story about our keeping place – a more appropriate means of describing our collections covering the rich diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, languages and lifestyles is required. The AIATSIS Library has recently redeveloped its subject thesaurus which describes the AIATSIS collections in our Catalogue and Digital Archive. It is clear that the work in AIATSIS to develop its digital archive and plan for the best means of digital repatriation has achieved initial momentum.
There is a strong and vital need to retain our indigenous cultures and the work described in this paper may help show the way to other bodies responsible for developing their collections.
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